Wolfgang Kirsch the new Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Unico Banking Group

Since January, Wolfgang Kirsch has been Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Unico Banking Group - a position that he will hold for the next two years. The Brussels-based Unico Banking Group is an important cooperative institution which serves to jointly promote the business activities of cooperative banks at European level.

"I am delighted with the nomination - a trustful exchange amongst partners is of significant importance, especially in these challenging times. We thus wish to intensify dialogue at European level and draw up solutions together in order to create added benefit for the operating business," stated Kirsch. As the new Chairman, Kirsch succeeds Bert Heemskerk (CEO of Rabobank), who held this position for 4 years.

In 1977, the Unico Banking Group was founded by six cooperative banks with the aim of intensifying cross-border, operative cooperation between members. Unico meanwhile consists of eight banks which together account for 21 per cent of the European retail-banking market. Member banks include six full members: Crédit Agricole (France), DZ BANK (Germany), ICCREA Banking Group (Italy), Pohjola Bank plc (Finland), Rabobank (Netherlands) and the Austrian Raiffeisen Zentralbank (RZB), and two associate members: Banco Cooperativo Espanol and Raiffeisen Schweiz. Together, these banks service the needs of some 110m customers in more than 40,000 branches in Europe.

In the last few years, the Unico Banking Group has focussed on the areas of payment transactions, capital markets and leasing as well as on offering further education events for its members. Representatives of all member banks work closely together on these issues in work groups. Most recently, the banking group also intensified its cooperation during the financial market crisis. In October of last year, it came up with an initiative to revive the European interbank market, whereby members were to grant each other unsecured credit lines.

In 2009, the experts of all member groups shall have increased opportunity to establish networks and exchange experiences in "round table" events, whereby challenges relating to risk management and retail strategy will be the focus of attention.



Ilja-Kristin Seewald, Head of Department, Press, Internal Communication and Public Affairs
Tel.: 069-7447-42894, Fax: +49 69 7447-90309